Nuclear Deal in Place, Iran Is Testing New Missiles and Doubling Down in Syria
Tehran is wagering the Obama administration is so committed to the nuclear pact that it will look the other way.
During festivities this month marking the anniversary of Iran’s 1979 revolution, officials publicly displayed a mock-up of the country’s latest rocket, the Simorgh. Designed to launch a satellite into space, it bears a striking resemblance to the rocket North Korea just used for its own satellite launch, reinforcing concerns that Tehran is working with Pyongyang to develop advanced ballistic missiles capable of hitting Israel and parts of Europe.Maybe George Bush was onto something when he spoke of the "Axis of Evil."
Iran’s unabashed pursuit of missile technology is the latest example of how the country is asserting itself in the aftermath of the landmark nuclear deal that Tehran signed in July with the United States and five other major powers... Tehran in recent months has been flouting separate international restrictions on ballistic missiles and arms imports while expanding its support for militants in the region.Helped out, no doubt, by freed-up assets, along with new income for international oil sales, courtesy of the elimination of sanctions.
Iran has recently conducted two ballistic missile tests despite a U.N. ban and appears poised to launch its new Simorgh rocket. Western intelligence agencies fear Iran is working its way to building an intercontinental ballistic missile, which could eventually be outfitted with an atomic warhead...
And across the region, Iran is waging war through proxies and even its own military units to shore up the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad, undermine Israel, and support Shiite Houthis against Saudi-backed forces in Yemen.
The moves are raising concerns in Middle Eastern capitals and in the U.S. Congress, including among some of President Barack Obama’s fellow Democrats who backed the nuclear agreement but are worried the administration could cede too much ground to Tehran.If you believe that, contact me ASAP. I have a bridge to sell you - dirt cheap.
White House officials say they will remain vigilant against any actions taken by Iran that threaten its neighbors. Even with the nuclear agreement in place, “which ensures that our partners will not be faced with an Iran armed with a nuclear weapon, we’re still going to confront Iran’s destabilizing activities,” said a senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
But while Congress is pushing the administration to take steps to check Iran, Secretary of State John Kerry appealed to lawmakers on Thursday to hold off for the moment on renewing the long-standing Iran Sanctions Act — which maintains a broad range of financial and other penalties on Tehran that are unrelated to the nuclear program.If Kerry said it, I'm against it.
“I wouldn’t advise that for a number of reasons,” Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee...
The nuclear agreement imposed an array of limits on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions, freeing up to $100 billion in frozen assets. In the final stage of negotiations, the United States and other powers bowed to Tehran’s demand to ease the terms of the embargoes on arms purchases and ballistic missile development, which were imposed to penalize Iran over its nuclear work. The arms embargo is due to expire in five years, and the ballistic missile restrictions will run out in eight years — pending Iran’s compliance with the nuclear accord.Putin owns obama - again.
But Russia, which was one of the parties to the deal, has since announced plans to sell sophisticated S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran, as well as Sukhoi Su-30SM fighter jets. Iran has long sought the S-300 missiles, which have a range of about 100 miles and could make it much more difficult for Israeli or U.S. aircraft to stage an air attack on Iran’s nuclear sites...
Iran raised alarms in Washington recently after test-firing a rocket in the Persian Gulf within 1,500 yards of a U.S. aircraft carrier and after capturing 10 U.S. Navy sailors whose vessels had strayed into Iranian waters. Iran released the sailors promptly after a flurry of phone calls between Kerry and his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif. But before the sailors were freed, Iran released embarrassing video footage of the boat crews kneeling with their hands behind their heads, images of one sailor crying, and an interview with one officer who apologized for the navigation mishap.Iran ignored a U.N. prohibition. Really? Color me surprised.
Those aren’t the only incidents raising hackles in Washington. Iran carried out a ballistic missile test last October and another in November, despite a U.N. prohibition...
Early next week, Iran will likely test its Simorgh rocket... If successful, its launch would represent a major achievement for a missile program that has made remarkable strides in recent years with the help of North Korea.Like I said, I worry about many things. My overarching concern, however, is what kind of country, and what kind of world, my generation is leaving our children - MY children. Economic and social issues are worrisome enough, but my greatest fear is that some country run by lunatics (both North Korea and Iran qualify) will punch the nuclear button. In the case of North Korea, they have a psycho in charge. Iran (and other muslim countries) are controlled by people who have no fear of death, because they believe in an afterlife where they are pleasured by 72 virgins. That's not much of a deterrent.
Missile cooperation between Iran and North Korea began during the Iran-Iraq War, when Tehran found itself desperate for a ballistic missile capable of striking Iraqi targets far beyond the front lines... It eventually turned to North Korea for help. Pyongyang, in turn, supplied Iran with large numbers of Scud missiles, laying the basis for more than two decades of cooperation that will culminate with the likely launch of the Simorgh.